Water disputes at national level and settlement instruments

Note: Here, terms ‘conflict’ and ‘dispute’ are used as synonyms.

Conflict is a clash of interest occurring in process of social interaction. Conflict has both destructive and constructive functions.

Conflicts are classified depending on their duration, sources, form, spheres of life (economic, political), etc.

In particular:

  • Legal conflict is a situation, where two or more parties confront each other and dispute on their legal rights and obligations.

Thus, in a legal conflict dispute refers to legal relations of the parties, while the conflict itself has legal consequences.

  • Political conflict is one of options of interaction among political actors. This can be defined as competitive relations of two or more parties challenging powers or resources.

Dispute is the process of contention or disagreement. Dispute is based on evidence. Each side of the dispute justifies the rightness of opinion. If there is no conflict of opinion, this is a dialogue rather than a dispute.

Settlement of conflict is a peaceful solution to the conflict, with positive outcomes.

Identifying the cause of conflict is central for settlement. Parties to conflict may hide their internal reasons and strive to settle the conflict by removing effects rather than causes. This leads to prolonged conflict.

Experts suggest the following sequence of different conflict settlement forms:

  1. Negotiation. Implies a special platform, where the parties to the conflict meet regularly to discuss and make decisions.
  2. Mediation. Agreement of the parties for cooperation with a mediator and consideration of mediator’s proposals. It is often a very effective instrument for conflict settlement.
  3. Arbitration. Applying to the third party that makes a binding decision.
  4. Compulsory arbitration. Application to the third party and its decision are both obligatory.

Institutionalization of relations plays an important role in preventing and settling conflicts. This means creating formal relations, i.e. those that strictly follow from formally established rules and norms. Such institutionalization impedes confrontation.

Legal methods of conflict settlement have 4 common features:

  1. The conflict is considered and settled by a government authorized body (court, arbitration tribunal);
  2. The body that settles the conflict should act in line with legal norms;
  3. Conflicting parties bear legislatively prescribed rights and responsibilities while the dispute is examined;
  4. The conclusion made on the conflict is obligatory for parties to conflict.

Thus, the conflict is formalized.

Along with formal (legal) methods of conflict settlement, alternative solution (settlement) of disputes has become widespread recently. This is a set of out-of-court dispute (conflict) settlement procedures.

The world practices have many forms of such alternative solutions, of which:

  1. Negotiation
  2. Facilitated negotiation
  3. Expert determination
  4. Conciliation
  5. Mediation
  6. Arbitration
  7. Fact finding, etc.

Source (in Russian):
Альтернативное урегулирование споров
Методы разрешения конфликтов

Author: Rysbekov Yu. Kh., SIC ICWC